In Bed with the Devil(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 1)(52) by Lorraine Heath
“When we were children—”
“Not when you were children. Recently. Since you’ve been adults.”
He considered her question. Everything always seemed to involve Dodger’s. And before that Feagan.
“I can’t remember the last time we did anything.”
“You should do something together, don’t you think?”
It was embarrassing to admit that he’d never done anything with a lady that wasn’t questionable. “What would you suggest?”
“Have you been to the Great Exhibition?”
He could hardly fathom that she was speaking to him with enthusiasm about an outing with Frannie, as though he’d never kissed Catherine. He realized that she was putting up a wall. After all, she was the daughter of a duke, a woman with noble blood. And they both knew nothing about him was noble.
Frannie was the woman he’d marry. He needed to concentrate on winning her over.
“I’ve not been,” he told Catherine.
“Neither have I. They say Queen Victoria has gone five times already. Can you imagine?
I’m hoping to go tomorrow. Perhaps you could take Frannie there sometime. It would be a nice outing.”
“I’ll consider it.”
She nodded, her tongue darting out to lick her lip the way it did after she drank wine. He wondered if she was tasting him. She cleared her throat. “We should probably return to our guests.”
“Probably.” Only he didn’t want to. Dinners were tedious.
“We shall forget what happened earlier, and I won’t allow it to happen again,” she said.
He studied her in the shadows of his library. “Do you mean the kiss?”
She nodded, and so he nodded as well. She might be able to forget it, but he doubted that he ever would, that he would ever forget the smallest detail about her.
“Have you ever known anyone to stand up to him like she does?” Bill asked, before sipping his wine.
Frannie smiled. “No. And I don’t think he quite knows what to make of her.”
“He’s always loved you, Frannie. Why are you making it so blasted difficult for him?
You’re not meek, you’re not cowardly. I daresay if you wanted all this, nothing would stop you from acquiring it.”
“That’s the thing, Bill. I don’t want all this. It’s too grand, it’s too…well, it’s simply too much.”
“Think of all the good things you could do.”
“I can do them now. I am doing them now.”
“But you could do so much more. As Luke’s wife, you’d have influence, you’d—”
“Be snubbed at every turn. I don’t understand why he stays in this world. I truly don’t. I see how they look at him at the club. He has no friends among the aristocracy. They spurn him.”
“Do you not see the irony? You judge them as harshly as they judge us. What do you truly know of them? Don’t you like Catherine?”
She pursed her lips. “You’re determined to make this difficult.”
“You worry about what the aristocracy thinks of you.”
“No. The one thing I learned in my youth as a grave robber was that everyone looks the same when they’re dead. We’re all equal then. So when I meet a chap, sitting on his high horse, I imagine him dead. He’s not quite so intimidating then.”
She giggled. “You’re awful.”
He smiled at her. He had such a beguiling smile. He’d always been so very quiet, keeping to himself. When she’d first met him, she’d been afraid that she would die if he touched her. She thought all the children had been afraid of him, or at least in awe of him. He was the first one they’d ever known who didn’t fear the dead.
A young man came to Luke’s residence shortly after dinner to inform Bill that one of his patients had taken a turn for the worse. Bill quickly took his leave.
It was left to Luke to take both ladies home. Because he wasn’t quite ready to trust himself alone with Catherine, he took her home first. Frannie didn’t give the impression she suspected that anything inappropriate had happened while Luke and Catherine were out of the room. But then she’d never suspect the worst of him.
After he escorted Catherine to the back gate, he was left alone in the coach with Frannie.
It was strange to realize on how few occasions they actually traveled together. When he and Catherine traveled each evening they talked about a great many things. Perhaps it was because they were new to each other’s lives and knew so little about each other, whereas he and Frannie had grown up together. They knew everything about each other.
“I think Bill works far too hard,” Frannie said after a while.
“Who among us doesn’t?” he asked.
“I suppose you’re right. I rather like Catherine.”
“You made it difficult for her tonight.”
“I think we all did, but I just really wasn’t in the mood for a formal dinner. I’ll do it properly when it matters, Luke.”
“I know you will. It seemed tedious to me as well. I doubt we’ll entertain often.”
She lifted the curtain, glanced out. “Jim was telling me about the Great Exhibition. He was rather impressed with it.”
“Would you like to go?”
She dropped the curtain back into place. “I would, yes.”
“Will tomorrow serve?”
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